Monday, 7 December 2015

Reviewed: What Happens at Christmas by T.A. Williams







What Happens at Christmas was published by Carina on October 22, 2015.


Thanks to Trevor and Carina for sending me a Netgalley copy of this book to review.



What Happens at Christmas is a beautiful festive story that packed a real punch, with a surprisingly full of depth story evolving throughout the pages. I can always rely on Trevor’s books to put a smile on my face but this one, though it took me a little bit of time to really connect with it, felt more intriguing and thought-provoking than the rest with a more emotive story. Holly Brice has discovered her dad has died and she heads off to the cosy village of Dartmoor in Devon to sort out his house and try and learn more about the father she barely knew. She also finds she has inherited the house, along with a hefty trust fund and an adorable dog too. It’s a cliché but this book really sees main character Holly go on a journey of self-discovery, learning not only more about her childhood and her family but also herself, too. This theme runs all the way throughout the book and I felt like Trevor’s writing worked really well at drawing the reader in and it almost made me feel like I was a part of Holly’s life watching her come to terms with things, not just a bystander but someone who can clearly see the emotions she’s going through and the way her feelings are changing with every memory.

I loved the setting of Dartmoor and Trevor really brought it to life with all his little descriptions of not just the area but the community – the food, the drink, the weather and the history. Everything was beautifully described and detailed and really brought the story to life. As snow begins to fall, there’s a magical feel to the setting and it was truly lovely to read about. The chapters, set out across ten days, brought us closer to the approaching Christmas and I loved how the story became increasingly more festive as it went along. Simple touches early on like mentioning that the odds had shortened on a white Christmas or how each car coped (or didn’t cope) with snow teased the wintery feel I adore in Christmas book releases and it had me looking forward to seeing where Christmas would take the village and its residents.

I was engrossed by the mystery of Holly’s father and wanted to learn more and more about him. The titbits she learnt about him initially from the residents of Dartmoor peaked Holly’s, and my, interest because she had grown up angry towards him for walking out on her and her mum when she was just a child, yet the man people talk about to her sounds like a true gent, and a much-loved one at that. I loved finding out a little bit more about George and with every new detail, I craved more until I could build up a picture so vivid of Holly’s dad that it felt like he was a true, alive character in the book too.

Trevor’s books always feature a dog and I love meeting the new friendly companion every time I pick one of them up. The dog Holly has inherited from her father, Stirling, was my favourite of the lot. Time Holly spent with Stirling made her feel closer and more connected to her father and she picked up that dog-owner bond which is so sweet and endearing to read and Stirling really was the most adorable part of the story. He was a comfort to Holly but also a real character, vibrant and full of life and mischief. Right from the beginning, it’s evident that Holly is going to grow attached to him but you couldn’t blame her for that.

What Happens at Christmas sees Holly meet different men who all affect her new life in some way. Justin and Howard were both interesting characters that I wanted to learn more about but the man I enjoyed reading about the most was Jack, Holly’s new neighbour, who was a bit dreamy. Each character in this book was fascinating and had depth to them – though there were quite a few, there weren’t any that felt flat or under-developed. Holly herself was a character I really liked and connected with early on. I loved seeing her discover all the things she had in common with her father and found myself wondering how her approach to romance may change and whether she’d decide to move her life from London to Dartmoor. The book kept me intrigued throughout. What Happens at Christmas is a quick read but one that’s thoroughly worthwhile. Though it does have that cosy, obvious romantic element to it, the story possessed a lot more than that and it’s a touching festive story that well deserves a read this Christmas time.


A festive story full of depth and emotion







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